Log In

Enter your username and password below

Pope Francis Would Love This Kind of Lung Surgery

When Jorge Mario Bergoglio was elected as the new Pope last month, few people were familiar with the Argentinean cardinal.

Even fewer know that the 76 year old will be fulfilling his papal duties with only one fully functioning lung.

That’s because when he was a teenager, the man now known as Pope Francis suffered a serious lung infection. So serious that doctors had to surgically remove part of it.

But that was 60 years ago. As medical technology advances, we now have a range of far less drastic and invasive procedures to deal with lung surgery.

Dr. Mark Ginsburg, a thoracic surgeon at the New York Presbyterian Hospital, explains: “When the Pope had surgery, what did we have? We had chest X-rays. Now we have CAT scans, PET scans, MRIs. So we have much better abilities now to ascertain what’s going on. Second, if this was an infection, we have much better drugs now. And so many patients who needed surgery 60 years ago to successfully treat some of these diseases may not need it now.”

Even if they do, endoscopic cameras and instruments that require a small incision for access to affected areas can do the job.

And Ginsburg should know. He’s just performed one such lung operation on a patient that not only removed the cancerous part of the organ, but lasted just one hour.

As for Pope Francis, given that it’s been 60 years since his lung surgery, Ginsburg says he should be able to continue living a “normal life,” as “the body is designed with a great deal of redundancy in reserve.”